Matthew came up with the word “Bliss” when we were discussing my latest drawing. I pounced on it – as a perfect title. What could “Bliss” be referring to? Perhaps marital bliss or the artist’s bliss (at witnessing and then drawing this scene). Or it could be the benevolent smile of the onlooker as she walks near the bride, or the bride’s rapture at wearing such an outfit and being the centre of attention.
It was good fortune which allowed me to capture the source photo in Gion, Kyoto. I’m sure I didn’t even see the young woman in the coat and boots pushing the stroller or her encouraging smile to the bride. I was trying to capture the bride before she folded down her janome (oiled parasol) and moved on. I only had seconds to spare as I was one of the many photographers following the erikae walk of Satsuki-san. Photographing the bride was a rushed detour from my main path.
The outfit our bride wears is called an iro-uchikake. It is a splendid robe which is worn over the white bridal kimono. I adored drawing its exotic bright patterns and made every stroke reverentially. Iro-uchikake are so expensive that brides merely hire them for the day and even then it is a huge cost.
This was my first drawing on Velin BFK Rives paper after 14 years of using only Magnani Pescia. During my first tentative pencil marks I felt like the bride – unsure of the new reality. But some time into the drawing I became more confident, as if I was now the young mother in the composition. Most certainly it feels different layering pencil on BFK Rives than on Pescia. Would I use BFK Rives again? Yes. The paper encourages the colours to sing out, perhaps even more than Pescia. It takes some adjusting to, and persevering with – come to think of it – as does marriage.
Note: I am showing the photo I worked from (below) so that you can see how I edited out the groom. The shape of his janome did not add to the quality of the composition – in fact it subtracted from it. Better if I took him out completely.
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